Back in this post, we discussed The Red Garden, and then I declared the next selection as The Ninth Wife by Amy Stolls.  I loved it - more on that in a sec.  About two weeks ago or so, Sally, a charter member of the BFBG book club, e-mailed me to suggest State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett, and thanks to our quick jaunt out west, I've finished it already.  So we'll skip straight to discussion in a couple days.

And if you don't want to get into all of that, I have two picks for summer reading, one recent and one not:  Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan and Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen.  I'm reading Maine and have been listening to Skinny Dip (great fun!).  We'll say late July-ish we'll reconvene to discuss.  One last random note...if you have kids that love to read that are moping around this summer because you cut them off from using (name electronic device here), Carl Hiaasen has a couple kid-appropriate books that my 11-year old daughter LOVED:  Hoot, Scat and Flushed.

Have you grabbed a cup of coffee?  Good, let's talk The Ninth Wife.  Questions borrowed from here.

1.  Do you think Rory should have told Bess about his ex-wives on their first date or soon after?  Would you have if you were Rory?

Hmmm.  I liked Bess, so of course my first instinct is to say, YES, Rory should have told her right away.  But how can you make 8 ex-wives sound okay?  When you first date someone, and really like them, really feel a connection, it's tough to say out loud that thing you are carrying around that you know might scare this person away.  I don't think Rory should have been quite so cagy about his past, but totally understand why he was stalling the conversation.

2.  To what extent should our past define us?  Rory argues that you don't have to know much about someone's past to understand that person in the present.  Bess argues that we're the sum of our experiences and that we need to understand those experiences to understand ourselves and each other.  Who do you agree with?

I fall somewhere in the middle.  I don't need to know the nitty gritty details of someone's past to be their friend, and totally applaud anyone that maybe went astray at some point in their life and then got it together.  But everything in the past, both good and bad, is going to have influence on your present and your future.  And what those things are is going to be different from person to person.

3.  Why do you think Millie is physically harming Irv?  Why do you think Irv is keeping quiet about it?

I think that when you have been in a relationship with someone you love for a long time, sometimes your ability to communicate is easy, like finishing each other's sentences, and sometimes it's incredibly frustrating, because you know how the argument is going to go, so having the conversation in the first place is pointless, which just makes you madder.   Underlying all of their frustrations with each other and the stress of moving is a love and respect, which is why I don't think Irv speaks up.  I think also that people get incredibly emotional, far more than you expect, when their environment changes.  Even if it is something you want to do (Millie) it can be scary and stressful.

4.  Bess wonders if Washington, D.C., will feel like home after her grandparents leave.  And when asked if he feels homesick, Rory talks about Ireland, even though he's been living in the U.S. for more than 25 years.  What is it about where you live that makes it feel like "home"?

To me home is about where my family lives, having a comfortable bed and living area, and if family isn't near by, a ready means of communicating with them.  The actual physical place is irrelevant.  Although...we've now lived in the same place for 7 years, a lifetime record for me, so maybe that actual place is wrapped up in it also.

5.  Would you, in the end, marry someone who has been married eight times before?

I can't discount the power of love, but no, I don't think I could.

6.  Have Bess and Rory learned what it takes to make a marriage last into old age?  Do you think their marriage has a good chance to succeeding?

I think/hope Bess learned that there is no one answer to the "will it last" question.  If anything Rory's marriages showed that completely different circumstances led to a similar failure, save the woman who died of cancer.  But even that marriage shows that the most perfect love, the most lasting love, can still be ended by something completely outside the control of the people in the relationship.  I think that any marriage or relationship can last, no matter how inauspicious the start, if the two people involved decide that being together is far more important than being apart.

I liked this book and really enjoyed reading it because I like romances, and I like chick lit, but the stories get a bit repetitive and I tire of emotional roller coasters...this book had just enough depth to make it not seem fluffy and frivolous and like anything else I've read lately.

What did you think?  Check back in a couple days and we'll discuss State of Wonder.  Just a hint:  LOVED it.

One Comment

  1. I liked this, too, Elizabeth, and I usually don't like romances or chick lit! Go figure! I think this book had some meat and depth that took it out of those realms -- not at all frivolous or fluffy, as you said.
    Not sure that I could marry a man who'd been married 8 times either. But Rory had so many redeeming qualities, that I ended up feeling sorry for those women who didn't hang on to him!
    I liked that Bess was strong & independent and not about to "settle." It's what I wished for my girls (and one didn't get married until she was 37 because she wouldn't settle!). And, btw, she's the happiest person I've ever known.
    Yes, I think Millie was physically hurting Irv. And I think he took it because he felt guilt for his past actions, and his daughter daughter. I felt optimistic for them in the end.
    It was a good book and I'm glad you recommended it!


Powered by Blogger.